Jim Smith jimsmith at shaw.ca
Mon Aug 9 05:24:24 EDT 2004

                             FIELD DAY SUMMARY SHEET

    Contest Dates : 26-Jun-04, 27-Jun-04

   Callsigns Used : VE7VCT, VA7EOC (GOTA)
         Operator : MANY

         Category : 2A

 Default Exchange : 2A BC

             Name : Jim Smith
   City/State/Zip : Vancouver, B.C.
          Country : Canada

        Team/Club : VECTOR

   BAND   Raw QSOs   Valid QSOs   Points  

   80CW       87          87        174
   80SSB     134         128        128
   40CW      423         397        794
   40SSB     110         109        109
   20CW      335         315        630
   20SSB     287         273        273
   15CW        9           9         18
   15SSB      95          94         94
    6CW        8           8         16
    6SSB      86          76         76
    2DIG       1           1          2
    2SSB      33          26         26
  432SSB       2           2          2

 Totals     1610        1525       2342
 GOTA        152         152        257
            1762        1677       2599
 Power Multiplier                    x2
 Total QSO Points                  5198
 Bonus Points                      1340

    Final Score = 6538 points.

What follows is mostly about our efforts to organize FD using the 
Incident Command System.  It is rather long.


Our club was formed a few years ago specifically to provide emergency 
comms for the City of Vancouver.  Most of our activities take place on 
VHF FM.  Still, we're proud of our growing HF capabilities.  While Field 
Day isn't a contest, we were very pleased last year to find ourselves in 
the top VE spot in 2A and #46 overall out of 429.  (There was a glitch 
somewhere along the line which caused our QST reported score to be less 
than the actual.  The correct score is on the ARRL web site in the 
scores database.)  Our score this year is about 15% better so we're hopeful.

Being an emergency comms organization, the Club Exec decided that all 
significant club activities from now on should be organized using the 
Incident Command System so that members will gain familiarity with the 
system and, when responding to our client agencies' call-outs, will know 
what position to report to and where they fit in.  FD was the guinea pig 
(and I, as Incident Commander, was the sacrificial lamb). 


In the usual FD a bunch of folks get together, figure out who's going to 
bring the gear, put up the antennas, operate, etc, and it happens.   
With ICS, all the same things occur but it is highly formalized and 

The Incident Command System has an organizational structure with four 
major branches called Sections.  They are: Planning; Logistics; 
Operations; and Finance and Administration.  Within the Sections, a 
number of functions common to most incidents and at a variety of levels 
have been defined.    e.g. Documentation Unit Leader, Facilities Group 
Supervisor, etc. 

There are also Staff functions which aren't discussed here but are 
important.  e.g. The PR stuff take place at the Staff level.

The major duties of the four Sections for FD, as we saw them, are as 

1.  The Planning Section (amongst other things):

Works out what functions have to be performed and passes the functional 
requirements specs to the Logistics Section.

e.g. Require an operating position with transceiver with the following 
capabilities: Transmit and Receive on the FD HF bands using SSB; Tx 
output min 100W, prefer 150W; Can be interfaced with TRLog.

There's a lot more, of course, to an operating position and it was all 
specified according to what it needed to be able to do

2.  The Logistics Section (amongst other things):

Figures out what actual equipment that is available can be used to 
perform the functions identified by the Planning Section and where to 
get it.

Establishes the required facilities, puts up the antennas, installs the 
gear and makes it operational.

Keeps the generator humming.

Keeps everyone hydrated and fed and provides a place to drain their 
snakes (for those who have them).

Takes everything down at the end of FD.

Gets everything back to where it belongs

3.  The Operations Section (amongst other things):

Creates an operating plan using the prop predictions from the Planning 

Recruits and schedules ops.

Makes operating decisions during FD as to which position should be on 
which band and antenna at any particular time based on:
  Propagation predictions.
  Current band cndx.
  The results of examining the entrails of several uneaten hamburgers.

4.  The Finance and Administration Section:

Follows their training and bitches continuously about how much money is 
being spent.
Well, not in our case

The devil, as always, is in the details, but you get the idea - an 
apparent bureaucratic nightmare.  It isn't really, but it sure feels 
like it the first time through.



The first thing tackled was the organization chart.  In the ICS system 
you're not supposed to have more than 7 people reporting to anyone.  In 
our case, this resulted in an organization chart with 56 boxes!!  When I 
first presented the org chart (with fewer boxes) a retired engineer 
pointed out that the FD organization required more managers than the 
club had active members. Fortunately, by this time I had read enough 
about ICS that I could reassure him (and me) that, unlike the classical 
business model, the same person could appear in several boxes.  i.e. 
they could be a Section Chief in one part of the organization and the 
Head Janitor in another.  Little did I know at the time that my name 
would end up in 12 of the 56 boxes.  There are parts of the org chart 
where I was reporting to myself through 4 different levels.  There was 
even a spot where I was reporting to someone who then reported to me.

Ideally there would be a written job description for each box on the Org 
chart.  Well, we didn't make it that far but there were documents 
describing in some detail the duties of various parts of the 
organization and their interfaces with each other.  We also had plans 
for how to do things and where various things should go.  All of this 
being intended to get FD out of the heads of a few people and into a 
form that less experienced people could follow in the event that we have 
to set up a FD style operation in a real emergency. 

Once the Org chart was done and the Planning boxes were filled, the 
Planning Section drew up a set of Functional Requirements specs which 
specified, in very general terms, what absolutely everything needed had 
to be able to do.  Well, that's what they were supposed to do.  In fact, 
all we managed to get done was the specs for each operating position.  
We also defined the operator/logger requirements for each position and 
the skills they needed in order to perform effectively.


All the Functional Requirements specs produced by Planning were passed 
to the Logistics Section. We had already assigned Logistics Unit Leaders 
to be responsible for each operating position as well as functions such 
as antennas, shelter, power, food, etc.  For example, a Unit Leader 
responsible for one of the operating positions had to take the 
Functional Requirements spec for the position and determine every single 
thing required to meet the spec for that position, who to get it from, 
how to get it to the site, and how to get it back home again.  He was 
also responsible for setting it up and tearing it down.  Obviously, we 
already knew from previous years what gear was available and from whom, 
so the task wasn't as formidable as it sounds.  Still, in an emergency, 
this is what you have to be able to do.

Ideally, each Unit Leader would list everything he needed, where it was 
going to come from and who was going to transport it.  These lists would 
be dumped into a database which would show, for each item, which Unit 
needed it, where it was coming from (call sign or name), who was to 
bring it to the site (call sign or name) and ditto for the return voyage.

At this point, it would be a very simple matter to print a variety of 
lists which would show all the stuff any particular person is expected 
to provide; all of the stuff any particular person is supposed to 
transport, along with where from and where to, and which Unit Leader is 
supposed to get each item; and all of the stuff which each Unit Leader 
is expecting to get, along with who is providing it and who is bringing it.

That was the plan.

Maybe, in a couple of years, we might get this working properly.  No 
problem with the database, that was the easy part.  However, detailed 
equipment list preparation isn't what most people expect to be doing 
when they sign up for some FD duties and a whole bunch of FD fun.  No 
matter, this can be worked on over time.  Once we get the lists 
developed, modifying them as members, gear and requirements change will 
be pretty easy.


By and large, this went quite smoothly.  We had hoped to have the 
antenna erection part better organized than the usual, "Hey, we need 
five people over here."  Maybe next year.

We tried one new thing, though.  In the past we've had a tribander on a 
30 ft tower using 3 point guying.  To get it up we assigned two 
heavy-weights to make sure the tower base didn't slip while others 
simply walked the tower up.  We had people holding the guys (belayed 
around the rebar guy anchors) while this took place.  Last year we 
almost had an accident when, unnoticed, one of the guys started slipping 
up the rebar.  Fortunately, it was caught before it slipped off the 
end.  Otherwise, the tower would have lurched sideways, along with 
everyone walking it up.  I still have visions of everyone falling over 
and the tower landing on top of them, nutcracker style.

This time we had the tribander on a more ambitious 40 ft tower with, in 
addition, a 2m/70cm gain vertical mounted above the beam.  We used 4 
point guying which meant that 3 of the guys could be fastened to their 
guy anchors as, with the tower lying on the ground, it was obvious how 
long they needed to be.  Then we rigged a ladder to the tower base as a 
falling derrick.  We had the doddery 69 yr old with the big gut pull on 
the rope attached to the top of the ladder and, with little difficulty 
but some nervousness and a lot of disbelief, the tower rose majestically 
into the vertical position with little to no assistance from the rest of 
the crew.  The 69 yr old was heard to mutter something that sounded like 
"Gotta get Niagara", but no one could figure out what he was talking 
about.  Guess he must have got confused by the similarity between 
Falling Derrick and Niagara Falls.


At our final meeting a couple of days before FD I congratulated everyone 
on having got through the Planning and Material Acquisition phases 
successfully and went on to explain that I'd run out of time and that, 
while Setup hadn't been planned in detail, we'd done it before in 
previous FDs so that shouldn't be a problem.  However, no planning of 
the Operations phase had been done.  This prompted an Army Captain who 
is responsible for DND emergency comms for BC to say, "So, we're going 
to build this beautiful station and then no one is going to know what to 
do once FD starts?"  "Yup, that's right," I said, "but maybe someone 
might decide to turn on a radio and make a few contacts, you never 
know!"  Fortunately, this broke everyone up and we moved on to other topics.

On the day, the gear showed up, the station was built and, indeed, 
people did turn on the radios and make Qs, more than we've ever done 
before in our short history, 1667 vs 1491 last year.  This was the first 
year that we have had a station manager monitoring QSO rates of the 
various positions via the TRLog network, checking detailed propagation 
forecasts and the aforementioned hamburger entrails, and making 
decisions as to which band and antenna each position should be on at any 
particular time.  Another thing which helped was a nice run of 84 Qs on 6m.

Our score improved much more than the increased number of Qs would 
suggest.  This was due to a significant jump in the number of CW 
contacts.  We even had a GOTA op who made over 100 CW Qs.

Still, the lack of planning on the Operations side was noticeable at 
times.  With a lot of the earlier planning now pretty well done, we'll 
be able to pay proper attention to the stuff we didn't get to this year.

Another innovation this year was the implementation of a WinLink 2000 
system on VHF.  This gave us an on-site e-mail facility which we used 
for sending the bonus point FD messages.   No doubt others did this also 
but it's nice to feel that we're somewhere near the leading edge of 
something.  Gives us confidence in our ability to establish an e-mail 
system in the field.

We had a very serious problem with horrible, show-stopping, 
intra-station interference between the 2 HF positions.  Because we had 
some antenna redundancy we were able to work around it.  Another proof 
of the old adage that, "You can't have too many antennas."


A number of us learned quite a bit about ICS Organization.  However, FD 
itself really wasn't managed in accordance with ICS principles.  We'll 
try harder to do that next year.

One thing I really like about this formal method of organizing FD is 
that you have all these org chart boxes to fill.  Because you don't want 
the same names over and over in the boxes, you try to get more people 
involved.  Once the job descriptions for the boxes have been written, 
you can tell a potential box occupant exactly what he is expected to do 
and about how much work is involved.  This means that he knows what he's 
signing up for and that he isn't going to fall into a bottomless pit of 
FD tasks.  (Actually, of course, he is; once you've got him in one box 
it isn't too hard to coerce him into taking on another one.)

This isn't unique to ICS.  Any of the usual project management methods 
requires that tasks be identified and someone made responsible for 
them.  The ICS methodology does provide a convenient organizational 
structure for grouping the tasks common to emergency incidents.

Overall, I see the benefits of using ICS to organize FD as:

1.  Club members get exposed to the ICS way of doing things without 
having to take any formal ICS training.

2.  It requires the FD Chair to consciously split the work into a number 
of well defined tasks which makes it easier to get people to sign up to 
do the tasks.

3.  The Club (if it's done right) ends up with a bunch of documentation 
on how to do Field Day. 

This means that:

The Club now has a collective memory of how to do FD so, if a few key 
people leave, the Club doesn't have to relearn everything.

In an emergency, the Club can still set up a station in the field even 
if the key people aren't there.

And last, but definitely not least, it's easier for the head honcho to 
talk someone else into doing it next year.

Something to keep uppermost in the mind about Field Day - you can try to 
organize it to the n'th degree, as we do, and have success; you can go 
out there with minimal organization and a few folks who know what 
they're doing and have success; you can go out there with more BBQ's 
than antennas and have success; you can mount a couple of whips on your 
catfish boat and tool around the swamp and have success.  Did you come 
anywhere near to doing what you wanted to do?  Did you have fun?  Can 
you think of a better definition of FD success than these?

73 and thanks to ARRL for providing this outrageously fun activity.

de Jim Smith    VE7FO on behalf of VE7VCT

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